Brits buying property abroad and looking to experience that unique Mediterranean atmosphere, sun-kissed beaches, and European heritage have often turned their gaze towards the majestic Portugal. A great alternative to Europe’s overpopulated cities, Portugal has been the choice for many expats looking for their second home abroad.

However, with recent reports suggesting that Portugal will not be on the initial list of air bridges from UK, there has been a clamour from many tour operators and holiday makers alike to ensure that this is not the case come tomorrow when the list is announced. These demands may fall on deaf ears, but it highlights how Portugal is a real favourite amongst Brits as a holiday destination. This is for many reasons, first and foremost, Portugal is England's oldest ally since 1147 when English crusaders helped King Alfonso I capture Lisbon from the Muslims.

Famous for its national drink, port, beaches and dramatic scenery, Portugal is also an affordable destination, and the second best in value after Bulgaria. Younger generations have heard of the Livraria Porto bookstore in the Portuguese municipality of Porto, which has inspired the Hogwarts Library in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, while older ones are enthralled by its rich history, being one of the oldest states in Europe.

Portugal combines contemporary lifestyle with antiquated charm, and despite the recent financial crisis, the country has managed to recover, offering expats attractive tax and residency incentives and low mortgage rates.

Buying property in some of Portugal’s most popular locations

Whether you’re looking for a holiday home, your dream property to retire to or an investment, Portugal offers a variety of properties at different locations and prices. From Algarve’s beaches and golf courses, to Lisbon’s hip neighbourhoods and Porto’s famous wineries, Brits have many choices depending on the kind of lifestyle they want to experience and their budget.

Algarve’s property developments in such resort towns as Vilamoura and Quinta do Lago are sought after and expensive. A two-bedroom apartment can be up to €360,000 while a three-bedroom villa can worth around a million. Prices might be the same in Western Algarve, but, there, life is quieter as in the fishing town of Lagos where property prices range from €200,000 to €5 million. In the booming area of Eastern Algarve, properties can be cheaper, and you can find some attractive opportunities in the town of Tavira where country villas can be around €450,000.

Lisbon’s Blue coast, Costa Azul, is one of the most peaceful areas with such fishing villages as Sesimbra and Sines, most famous for its cuisine and seafood restaurants. Here, you can find five-bedroom villas ranging from €1-3 million or a three-bedroom house for €200,000.

Townhouses and apartments in developments can be a cheaper alternative, with the latter offering communal facilities such as pools and gardens with shared maintenance costs.

Financing your dream home in Portugal

If you are not transferring funds or re-mortgaging your UK home, you will need to consider your borrowing options, such as taking a Portuguese mortgage against a property. The larger amount of cash you deposit the easier it will be to secure a loan at a reasonable interest rate. You will need to also have in mind currency fluctuation as you will be better borrowing in the same currency you will be repaying the loan.

Currency Exchange

This is why, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by fixing the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.

When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.

Buying property overseas can be a stressful experience especially after the spread of the coronavirus and European countries’ lockdowns. However, you might not need to postpone your dream of buying a house abroad, as agents, notaries and lawyers have found new ways to respond to the situation.

Viewing a property

While you cannot be present materially to view your dream home, as countries such as Spain and France are on a state of emergency, many agencies continue to serve their clients through virtual tours and other online materials as an article in the Financial Times has pointed out. French agency Leggett Immobilier  state on their website that are open for business but can’t offer property visits. What they do offer, though, for the moment, is “a mix of videos, virtual tours, floor plans and additional photos.” They say that their agents are available to speak with clients through the telephone or video conference, and vendors willing “to do facetime or skype visits with you online.”

Proof of ID

While many viewings might have been postponed due to travel bans, agents and notaries are completing most paperwork online with the use of digital signatures, scanning and emailing documents or customers giving power of attorney (POA) to their lawyers. As the French agency says, their clients can give a “power of attorney” so they “don’t need to be physically present at either exchange or completion” when they purchase a property. While individual notaries might “have different interpretations of what is currently acceptable,” they note that clients’ agents will be able to clarify the current status of any purchase they have made.

According to Leggett, purchases continue with notaries accepting proof of ID by e-sign software such as web portals DocuSign and Yousign, without needing certification by a notary in the UK. The use of video conference and video links can also be used so that the notary can see the clients in real time signing the documents.

It is believed that the use of electronic signature in signing contracts remotely will continue and become more widespread over the coming weeks, especially when clients have already viewed the property and have already agreed on a price prior to the lockdown.

Flexible Dates

If you have already found your home and are in the middle of completing the purchase, then using a flexible completion date can ensure that the sale still progresses smoothly for both parties. Solicitor at My Lawyer in Spain Alex Radford says that they are suggesting a future completion date of at least two months which should be included when signing the documents. “There needs to be a clause inserted that states ‘completion will be by ‘x’ date or earlier by agreement or later if the parties or their legal representatives cannot attend completion due to Covid-19 crisis,’” he says. Radford clarifies that only documents of an urgent nature are signed, while other legal work is postponed, according to the notary’s criteria.

Agreeing on a flexible date is important, as this will guarantee securing your funds and progressing with the purchase. The FT article notes that having a “‘safety-net’ clause that allows buyers to pull out if they cannot secure a mortgage,” or extending target days will protect buyers as well as sellers who fear that their property might be devalued after the coronavirus.

If you are in the process of buying your dream home, there is no reason to panic. Jacqui Reddin, Head of Sales Development at Beaux Villages, says that staying in touch with your agent and remaining informed is the best way to move forward. She clarifies that they “are still actively dealing with ongoing sales and even have new ones since lockdown. The buying process is bound to take a bit longer, but if we all stay connected things will start to flow more smoothly.”

In regards to financial concerns over transferring your money abroad or currency exchange, keeping in touch with your currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX can give you peace of mind and help you navigate the unexpected volatility of currency markets. If you want to schedule ahead and safeguard your funds, talk to one of their foreign exchange experts today.

 

Are you looking for a new adventure? Maybe your career has forced you to relocate? Ireland, with its gorgeous green landscapes, rich history and a growing economy could be the perfect place for you – especially with the uncertainty that Brexit brings for many UK nationals. Here, Universal Partners FX provides a comprehensive guide for anyone thinking about moving to Ireland, what you’ll need to move as well as working and living in Ireland.

For expats considering moving to Ireland, the first thing that should be recognised is that the island is technically home to two nations. The Republic of Ireland, consisting of 26 of the island’s 32 counties, resides in the South. Northern Ireland, made up of the remaining six counties and is part of Great Britain, is found in the north. Despite being part of Great Britain, Northern Ireland does have its very own devolved government and is not governed by the United Kingdom. Generally, when people speak of Ireland, they are often referring to the Republic and not Northern.

A history of Ireland

Shortly after arriving in Ireland, you will quickly become aware of its long and well-documented history, of which its residents are extremely proud. Irish history, from its historic period all the way up to modern times, is one that is characterised by trade with the international community. As you travel around Ireland, the signs and sites can be seen throughout the country, and information of its rich past can be found in museums and tours. However, the most obvious examples of foreign influence across the island are inarguably those of the British Empire. As a result of being under British reign for over eight hundred years, the remnants of colonialism can be seen far and wide, stretching from the architecture all the way to the political and economic structures of the country. An important note to remember for anyone moving to Ireland is that the British Empire and Northern Ireland can be quite a touchy subject for those that live in the south!

Places to move to in Ireland

For most people moving to Ireland, their destination may have already been decided. Whether it’s a result of work or family commitments. However, many expatriates moving to Ireland may be looking for their next job opportunity. Thankfully, Ireland is home to a choice of large cities and centres of industry that stand as excellent places to both live and work.

  • Dublin – Dublin, the capital and largest city in Ireland, is the cultural and economic epicentre of the nation. Home to approximately 1.8 million people, Dublin accounts for nearly 40% of the entire population. As the considerable majority of offers on online job portals are in Dublin, the enticement of moving to Ireland’s heart is unrivalled. In addition, with superb transport links directed to the capital, it is an extremely easy place to travel in and around and to and from.

 

  • Cork – Cork is Ireland’s second-largest city and is ideal for anyone looking to find work within the industry sector. Residing in the southwest of the country, Cork remains the heart of the local industry, in particular, the IT, pharmaceutical and oil sectors. Global brands such as Apple, Amazon and Logitech all have subsidiaries and European headquarters there.

 

  • Galway – If you prefer a smaller city, Galway is a great choice. A small, coastal city in the west of Ireland, Cork is home to a large student population and a growing market for start-up companies, perfect if you’re thinking about setting up your own business. The compact city has good infrastructure and is only around two hours away from the capital along the motorway.

 

  • Limerick – A major economic hub for Ireland, Limerick is found on the west side of Ireland and is home to the Shannon Free Zone, Business and Technology Park. As a result of the appealing tax terms in this free trade zone, many international organisations opted to move to Limerick to set up shop. It is also located adjacent to one of the busiest airports in the country, Shannon Airport. Making the move to Ireland’s heartland a breeze.

 

Visas

Just like most countries, Ireland has a variety of visa options for you to choose from depending on your length and purpose of stay. If you are a citizen of the EEA, Switzerland or any country on this list, you will not need a visa to enter Ireland. Nationals from various countries outside of the EEA will require a visa, however. Even if you are the dependent if an EU citizen, as non-EEA national, you may need a visa to enter and move to Ireland if you do not acquire the respective family member residence card.

Expatriates interested in moving to Ireland will most likely need either the Long Stay Visas or Business Visas. For an overview of all visa types available when entering Ireland, as well as other important information for relocating, visit the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. The cost of applying for an Irish visa is around 60-100 EUR.

Once you move to Ireland, unless you are an EEA or Swiss citizen, you are required to register with the local immigration authority if you plan on staying in Ireland for more than 90 days. To do this, simply visit the local Garda District Headquarters where you will receive a Certificate of Registration, costing 300 EUR, which proves that you are legally residing in Ireland.

Work Permits

Just like visas, there is a choice of work permits to choose from in Ireland depending on the nature of your work and how much you will earn. In total, there are nine different types of work permits, but the most popular are:

  • The General Employment Permit – In order to be eligible for this permit, you must usually have a minimum annual salary of 30,000 EUR or in some exceptional cases 27,000 EUR. You must also have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job.
  • The Critical Skills Permit – Formerly known as the Green Card, this permit is issued by the Department of Job, Enterprise and Innovation. You may be eligible for this permit if you earn more than 60,000 EUR per year or if your job is on the Highly Skilled Occupations List and you earn more than 30,000 EUR per year.
  • The Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit - Spouses, recognised partners, civil partners, and dependents of researchers and holders of Critical Skills Employment Permits and former Green Card permits are eligible for this permit. However, you must be a legal resident in Ireland in order to apply for this permit.

 

Living in Ireland

Before moving to Ireland, many people have an image of the ‘Emerald Isle’ that consists of a lot of rain, greenery and moderate pace in a way of life. These expectations are accurate to some extent but once you arrive you will quickly realise that the Republic of Ireland is amazingly similar to many other nations of a similar nature. It does, however, possess a number of ‘rules’ that you will need to be aware of.

The road system

In Ireland, motorists drive on the left-hand side of the road. Road conditions are generally on par with any other industrialised country and will only take a few days or so before you become normalised to the roads and countless roundabouts you are sure to encounter. Outside of the city centres, the roads can become a little trickier as a result of curvier, narrow and rockier roads.

Traffic regulations

If your stay in Ireland exceeds 12-months, you will be required to apply for an Irish driver’s license in order to keep driving your vehicle. If you are from the EEA or one of the residing states, however, you can simply exchange your driver’s license for an Irish one. The Irish driving system works off of a penalty point system, which was introduced in 2002 as a result of the increasingly high number of traffic-related deaths. If a driver receives more than twelve points, they will be suspended from driving for six months and must submit their license to the authorities. You can view the 62 offences that can incur points on your license here.

Healthcare

Ireland provides an exceptional, tax-funded healthcare system. The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for providing extensive healthcare assistance to every Irish resident. The majority of healthcare in Ireland is free, however, some services such as hospital stays and emergency care do come with a charge. A good thing to note is that if your income and assets are below a certain limit, you are able to apply for a medical card or a GP visit card, which makes you exempt from certain or even all healthcare fees. If you earn about the threshold, you will have to pay to some healthcare fees.

If you have decided to move to Ireland to work for more than a year, you will need to contact the HSE as soon as possible to confirm your status as an ordinary resident. Expats coming from within the EEA are also entitled to receive certain medical services free of charge.

How Universal Partners FX can help you

If you’re planning on moving to Ireland, you will need to make a number of transactions at one time or another. Whether it’s to pay for initial accommodation fees, healthcare or to simply exchange money. When doing so, you’ll want to get the most out of your money, which can be a problem when high transaction fees and poor exchange rates are involved. Here at Universal Partner FX, you avoid all that. With zero transactions fees and bank-beating rates, you ensure a safe and secure money transfer, as well as getting the absolute most out of your money.

With our easy-to-use online money platform, you can send your money to Ireland in just a few simple steps. But first, be sure to sign-up for a personal account with us to be assigned your own personal foreign exchange specialist. To learn more about how Universal Partners FX can make moving to Ireland easier and smoother for your finances, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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With the pound falling against the Swiss franc in the five years to the end of October, and after a period of decline, the Swiss housing market has seen a rise in prices. Particularly, major cities such as Geneva are now more expensive than other European cities. With some of the priciest homes located along Lake Geneva’s south bank in Cologny and Collonge-Bellerive overseeing the lake and magnificent gardens, it is not hard to see why such properties could fetch high amounts.

For many expats, renting a property is more affordable, and 60 percent of residents rent their properties. However, if you can afford to buy a property in Switzerland, certain rules and regulations might change due to Brexit. While there won’t be any changes if you have already bought your home before Brexit, after Brexit, you will be considered a “person abroad” and you will be subject to the restrictions of Lex Koller.

Here, we will have a quick look at the Swiss property market and then the rules regarding buying property.

The Swiss market

Before 2017, house prices increased by 80.5 percent, forcing the Swiss National Bank to adopt stricter lending criteria and abandon its cap against the euro in order to limit investor demand. In 2017, purchase prices fell by 0.75 percent, while in the second half of 2017, according to Swiss National Bank data, the average asking price per square metre was CHF 11,800 (€10,100) in Zurich, CHF 11,530 (€9,865) in Geneva, and CHF 9,260 (€7,920) in Lausanne.

According to the Financial Times, prices have now risen again due to falling mortgage rates and a shortage of supply, while “imminent corporate tax reforms” are particularly increasing Geneva’s appeal. Alex Koch de Gooreynd, who specialises in the Swiss, Austrian and Portuguese market at Knight Frank, explains that demand from overseas buyers was reduced due to the strong franc, the fall in the pound and euro. An average €23,400 per sq m prime property is, for example, higher than its equivalent of €19,400 in Paris and €13,500 in Frankfurt.

In Collonge-Bellerive, a four-bedroom villa can go for CHF 4.3m (£3.38m) and in Anières a four-bedroom house can go for CHF 3.29m (£2.58m). In Chêne-Bougeries a two-bedroom duplex is CHF 1.595m (£1,25m). With 169 sales this year for properties over €3.6m (£3m), it is obvious that only millionaires can afford a three-bedroom apartment or a four and five-bedroom house.

But, if you cannot afford to buy, renting is a an alternative, with a two-bedroom apartment near Lake Geneva priced at CHF 2,200 (€1,997) per month.  

Purchasing property

Brits’ residence rights have been secured by the Agreement on Acquired Citizens’ Rights (AACR) signed by Switzerland and the UK on 25 February 2019 (new FMOPA). Among other things, the agreement also covers the purchase of real estate by UK citizens in Switzerland and vice versa. The new FMOPA agreement will come into force after the end of the transition period agreed between the EU and the UK. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the AACR shall apply immediately after the UK leaves the EU.

Lex Koller

Lex Koller is the law which limits ownership by foreigners and distinguishes between Swiss residents and non-Swiss residents. The law allocates 1500 permits for non-Swiss residents annually to buy holiday homes not exceeding 200m2 in tourist locations and mountain resorts. However, even those non-EU/EFTA citizens who have a Swiss residency permit are covered by Lex Koller’s restrictions as it applies to their main residence.

According to Lex Koller, “persons abroad” are classified all citizens from the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) who have no legal or actual Swiss residence and citizens of other states with no permanent Swiss residence permit. They are subject to restrictions and, in some cases, may need to acquire Swiss residential property.

Currently, since the UK is still part of the EU, UK citizens are not classified as persons abroad if they have a legal or actual Swiss residence. After Brexit, UK citizens with a legal or actual Swiss residence will need to acquire a permanent Swiss residence permit. However, some of these may not apply with the new FMOPA, as UK citizens will be able to safeguard the rights acquired under the FMOPA.

So, if they already purchased property, this will be respected after Brexit. If at the time of Brexit, UK citizens have already a legal or actual Swiss residence in order to buy Swiss residential property, they won’t require a permanent resident permit.

UK citizens will be able to retain their status as cross-border commuters in Switzerland after Brexit if they purchase Swiss residential property, as a secondary home.

However, after Brexit all those who have no prior Swiss residential property, or legal or actual Swiss residence, and do not qualify as cross-border commuters will be subject to the restrictions of Lex Koller.

Not only does Switzerland have strict rules about purchasing property, but also the process of purchasing a home can be lengthy, lasting more than three months. When you finally decide on your property, keep in mind that you will also need to pay 5% of the purchase price for the notary’s fees (0.2-1 percent) and charges, including a 3 percent property transfer tax and around 1-1.5 percent for registering the deed with the land registry office.

This is why it will be good to plan ahead and get in touch with an expert foreign exchange firm such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX’s specialist currency brokers will make sure that your money is safe by providing you with a range of hedging strategies against the volatility of the currency market.

Moving to Spain

Moving to a foreign country is usually a big decision that requires a lot of planning and preparation, whether it’s a long-term commitment or a short-term lifestyle choice.

For many British expats, Spain is the ultimate emigration destination, providing the perfect terminus for those seeking a change of scenery.

Whether you’re seeking a fresh start or a place to retire to, a whole host of Brits have no problem swapping the cold, damp greys for warm, cloudless blues.

If you’re one of those Brits looking to relocate to the land of the siesta, this handy guide for expats in Spain is a must-read.

Do I Need a Visa to Live in Spain?

First things first, as is the case with any international relocation, it’s important to know the legalities of moving to your country of choice and moving to Spain from the UK is no different.

For short-term visits, British expats are allowed to remain in Spain for 90 days over a period of six months; however, if you are planning on residing in Spain for longer than three months, you will need to apply for Spanish residency.

Under the Freedom of Movement Act, citizens of EU countries don’t need a visa to visit, live, work or study in Spain. Instead, EU nationals simply need to register with the authorities and get a national identity number.

However, with Brexit ominously hanging over the UK like the Sword of Damocles, those terms have become somewhat clouded, muddying the Spanish waters for Brits looking to make the journey south.

Expats in Spain After Brexit

If you are or will be an expat in Spain after Brexit, it’s important to become well acquainted with the Brexit process. The results of the negotiations are likely to have a significant impact on expats living in Spain after Brexit, so it’s wise to familiarise yourself with the latest updates.

While the exact details over Brexit and the subsequent implications are murky at best at this stage, there are a few pieces of information that have emerged with regards to Spanish travel.

If the UK severs ties with the EU without a deal, UK nationals that were officially living in Spain prior to the date the UK exits will be considered legal residents for a period of 21 months. According to gov.uk, this ruling will be enforced regardless of whether or not the British national currently holds a Spanish residency document.

Conversely, if the UK does leave the EU with a deal in place, UK nationals will be able to register as a resident in Spain under the current rules, provided they arrive before the end of the implementation period. Such expats will also have their right to Spanish residency protected for as long as they remain living there.

In short, should the UK leave the EU with a deal, travel to the EU will remain unchanged until the end of 2020. On the other hand, if the UK leaves without a deal, rules for travelling and working in Europe will change accordingly.

Good to Know

With the visa/Brexit issue covered, there’s more to life in Spain than admin, paperwork and entry documents.

To prepare you for your Spanish arrival and help you settle in once you touch down on Iberian soil, here are a few facts about life in Spain that are good to know:

Mediterranean Climate

Arguably the biggest draw for would-be expats in Spain, the toasty warmth of the Spanish climate is an attractive proposition for many Brits seeking escape from drab and damp weather of the UK.

The south of Spain is particularly blessed with sunny weather, with the Balearic and Canary Islands boasting a warm climate all-year-round. In the summer months, temperatures in Spain can even break the 40 degrees Celsius barrier.

Even when temperatures drop, the sun is a virtual constant regardless of the season and it’s not unusual for islands like Mallorca to feature sunshine even in December.

According to Spanish travel experts, SeekingTheSpanishSun.com, the five warmest winter destinations in Spain are Marbella, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Costa Tropical and Seville, with temperate highs of 16-22 degrees.

- Property Prices

While growing housing prices in Britain have made it increasingly difficult for many to mount that first rung on the property ladder, the same can’t be said for real estate in Spain.

Low-interest rates – particularly in coastal regions – make Spain an attractive proposition for property buyers.

In fact, national statistics show that there is 78% home ownership in Spain, considerably higher than the UK and notably above the EU average.

For additional help buying a property in Spain, you may want to enlist the aid of a gestor who will be able to guide you through the process smoothly.

Cost of Living

Another huge perk of life in Spain, the cost of living is lower than the UK in almost every measurable metric.

According to statistics website, Numbeo, Spanish prices trump the British equivalent across the board, with an overwhelming majority of goods and services costing less en España.

From groceries and rent to cigarettes and beer, the Spaniards have us Brits well and truly trumped.

Dining out is also cheaper, providing all the more reason to enjoy some tapas and a few sangrias with friends.

However, there are some curious exceptions to the rule, with items like cheese, beef and bananas all costing around 15-20% more.

However, it’s worth noting that the average monthly salary is also less in Spain, which does offset the price differential somewhat.

Easy Does It

Spain is renowned worldwide for its laid-back lifestyle and the slower pace of life can be a huge culture shock for those used to the hectic pace of working life in the UK.

That being said, it’s undoubtedly a welcome change for many and the relaxed approach is the polar opposite to the daily rush many of us Brits have become accustomed to.

A famous part of this calmer approach is, of course, the mid-afternoon siestas. Meanwhile, it’s not unusual for morning routines to run into early afternoon.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the entire month of August is traditionally viewed as a domestic holiday month for most Spanish natives.

While this is great for relaxing and reinforces Spain as a fantastic destination to unwind and enjoy life, it can make things difficult when it comes to errands and admin.

As such, if you need to get something important done, it’s best to arrange your activity outside of these times, where possible.

Transferring Money to Spain

Of course, no UK expat in Spain will be able to survive very long without financial backing. As such, moving money to Spain from the UK is a vital part of the process.

Whether you’re looking to purchase a property or arrange accommodation rental, transferring funds from the UK to Spain is a necessary part of securing a place to stay prior to arrival.

Prior to doing so, it’s important to secure the best exchange rate possible. Doing your due diligence and getting the right exchange rate can provide substantial savings.

In order to ensure you get the best exchange rate for transferring money to Spain, Universal Partners FX is here to do just that.

Our safe, secure transaction process allows you to transfer money to Spain quickly and effectively with no hidden transaction fees or strings attached.

To transfer money to Spain, simply follow our easy three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

With a 5-star rating from independent review site Feefo, we have a proven track record as a top-quality FX partner. Send money to Spain with Universal Partners FX and give your transfer trouble a siesta today.

For more advice for expats in Spain or to find out more about sending money to Spain from the UK, why not drop us a line today? Call 020 7190 9559 now or get in touch online by using the button below.

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Moving to New Zealand

Whether it’s for work purposes, living closer to family or just because you fancy a change, there are several things you’ll need to consider and plan out before moving to New Zealand. From finding somewhere to stay, to securing the right visa and the cost of living, Universal Partners FX is here to make sure you’re clued up on the ins and out of becoming a fully-fledged kiwi.

Research, research, research

The first thing that we recommend doing before you make the big decision of emigrating to New Zealand is doing as much research about the country as you possibly can. Jump online and take a look at what New Zealand has to offer and in particular if there is anything that you can offer New Zealand. If you possess certain skills that are in demand, then making the move can be a whole lot easier. The best way to find out if New Zealand is the place for you, however, is to simply visit.

Book a flight for a holiday and use it as an opportunity to experience the lifestyle, the culture, the people, the weather or to meet potential employers. The best way of knowing whether New Zealand is for you is to get up and go there.

Visa time

Once you’ve decided that New Zealand is the place for you, the next thing to do is to secure your visa and the right visa for what you intend to do after you get there. The reasons behind your move to New Zealand will dictate which visa type you ultimately choose, including the length of your stay, whether you have a job lined up already and the time needed to gather the required documentation. Some of the most popular visa types are a Working Holiday Visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for up to a year. An Essential Skills Visa for people temporarily working for a specific employer or Skilled Migrant Visa that provides people residence in New Zealand.

Now, if your intention is to move to New Zealand, which is the whole purpose of reading this blog, then there are two visas for you. The Skilled Migrant Visa which we’ve already looked at and the Work to Residence Visa which always provides a pathway to living permanently in New Zealand. However, there are certain conditions that need to be met to acquire each of these visas types.

  • Skilled Migrant Visa – This visa is best suited to people who want to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, have been offered a job and possess the skills, qualifications and experience that the country needs. In order to obtain this visa, however, you will need to send the New Zealand government an Expression of Interest (EOI) telling them about the skills you have the job that you’ve been offered. A points-based system will be used to asses your application, where if granted the required number of points, you will progress onto the visa application. This visa is available to peopled aged 55 and under, lasts for an indefinite amount of time and takes approximately 11 months to process. The cost of the EOI is $530 whereas the application sits at $2,710.
  • Work to Residence Visa – This type of visa is best suited to people who have been offered a full-time job and want to eventually live in New Zealand permanently. This visa is tied to a specific occupation in an area of skill shortage with an accredited employer. You’ll be able to apply for residence if you continue working for your employer for two years. Available to anyone aged 55 and under, a Work to Residence Visa lasts for a total of 30 months, costs $635 and takes approximately 2-4 months to process.

Find out about other New Zealand visa types here.

The job hunt

If you’ve made the decision to move to New Zealand without having a job lined up, finding a job whilst you’re out there may not be as daunting as you think. New Zealand’s job market has been strong over recent years, with solid economic performances a huge driving factor. The New Zealand government expects the country to need around 47,000 more workers per year going well into the 2020s, a very promising statistic for anyone looking for a permanent position in the country. The majority of the new jobs will be in highly-skilled occupations where an expectation exists that most of these roles will be filled by people from overseas countries.

Job openings will grow for virtually every area of work, but the largest increases will be seen in business services, health care/social assistance, construction/utilities and education. The chances of landing a job will be particularly high if your skills are on any of the Essential Skills in Demand (ESID) lists of skill shortages which is updated regularly by Immigration New Zealand.

The right move

Now that your visa and hopefully job is covered, finding somewhere to live is the next thing to check off the list. That is of course if you haven’t already got somewhere to live. Finding accommodation in New Zealand should be relatively stress-free. The housing market is well regulated, with options for both short and longer-term contracts, with buying a house taking only a matter of weeks.

  • Renting – Rent in New Zealand is calculated weekly, so it’s important to keep that in mind when considering the value of the rent you’ve been advertised. The average rent is around 400 NZD a week for a small home and 530 NZD for a two or four-bedroom apartment or house. Rent prices, however, will be largely affected by the region of New Zealand you choose to live in. Auckland is the most expensive city to rent in, with accommodation costing anywhere between 600 NZD to 850 NZD a week.
  • Buying – If you’re thinking of buying a property when moving to New Zealand, you’ll be pleased to hear that the process is very well organised and regulated, making it simple and fast. You can buy a house as quickly as three to four weeks and will never have to worry about any last-minute bids stealing your home once you’ve submitted your official bid. The average house price in New Zealand currently sits at around 560,00 NZD and again, is heavily influenced by the region you choose to live in.

A few very important things to note about relocating to New Zealand are the strict Customs rules, tight border controls and required documentation needed to enter the country. Firstly, all of your belongings need to be declared and inspected when you first arrive in New Zealand. The tight border controls may prevent you from bringing some of your possessions with you or may even confiscate and destroy them. Many items are considered ‘risk items’, some require permits to import and others are strictly forbidden. Bringing pets into the country is another thing you will need to prepare for with difficulties surrounding some animals. In terms of health requirements, as long as you have all your vaccinations in order, there shouldn’t be much trouble when entering the country.

Living costs

Depending on where you’re emigrating to New Zealand from, you may find the cost of living pretty similar or cheaper. Some things cost less; some things cost more, particularly if they have to travel a long way to get to New Zealand. But generally, the cost of living is comparable to many other western-style countries.

Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey listed London as the world’s 23rd most expensive city to live in, whereas Auckland was ranked lower at 89th and Wellington even lower at 114th.

The healthcare system

One of the most promising aspects of moving to New Zealand is the quality of the healthcare system. If you are ever in need of medical care, you will not have difficulty in finding a well-trained, experienced doctor, fully-equipped hospital or speedy emergency care. The healthcare system may be slightly different from what you are used to, especially if you live in the UK, with a mix of public and private services. But we try to break things down into a simpler way here.

Since the 1980s, New Zealand has had a mixed public and private healthcare scheme. Here, public healthcare is subsidised by the government, but some services may be partially charged when private providers are involved. The extensive range of hospitals treats citizens, permanent residents and some holders of work visas for free. If your work visa entitles you to remain in New Zealand for at least two years then you will be eligible for public healthcare. Non-residents can also utilise the healthcare on offer but at a cost. If you are not eligible for public healthcare in New Zealand, then it is advised to have medical insurance from your home country.

Healthcare cover

The healthcare system provides free services for prescriptions, x-rays, treatments and laboratory tests. Services for pregnant women, dental care up to the age of 18, breast exams for women ages 55 and older and general practitioner (GP) referral visits. Public healthcare also covers maternity for the entire duration of the pregnancy and up to six weeks after birth. You’ll also be pleased to hear that public health insurance also covers any accidents you may have. The New Zealand government has a ‘no-fault’ insurance scheme known as Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which covers the cost of any accident regardless if you have applied for public or private healthcare.

Healthcare levels

There are three levels of healthcare in New Zealand; primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary healthcare covers family doctors, pharmacists, dentists and allied health which includes a number of health professionals including counselling and physiotherapists. Primary care also refers to the first general treatment of symptoms or medical concerns, such as the flu, bone fractures, or acute medical conditions. These services are provided in public hospitals and clinics and are free of charge depending on eligibility. Secondary care includes hospital services, either public or private, and specialist care and is provided by publicly-owned hospitals. Patients have a choice to access either public or private services, which may depend on preference or the availability of the services. Tertiary care includes cancer treatment, plastic surgery and other types of procedures.

Etiquette

Now that all of the essentials are more or less covered, it’s time to look at some of the general etiquettes of New Zealand that will help you go a long way on a more day-to-day basis and will help your transition go easier:

  • The people drive on the left side of the road – perfect if you’re moving to New Zealand form the UK.
  • New Zealander’s tend to not tip, so never find it rude if you don’t receive one, it’s just part of the culture.
  • Rugby and golf are very popular sports – there are more golf courses in New Zealand per capita of population than anywhere else in the world.
  • Kiwis are very similar to the British whereby small everyday encounters are often met with a polite ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
  • Learning a few words in Te Reo, which is the Maori Language will certainly help you settle in with some of the locals.

Sending money

Now, with all of these things in mind, you may be required to transfer money to New Zealand at one point or another. Whether it’s buying a property, paying for a visa or ordering goods for when you arrive. But when you do, the last thing you want is to pay extra cash to the bank at a mediocre exchange rate on top of the already huge list of things that you’ve done and will need to do. With Universal Partners FX, you’ll never have to. Here, we offer bank-beating exchange rates that you can secure in advance, with absolutely no transaction fees. Simply sign-up for an account to access our easy-to-use online money platform and send your funds quickly and securely. Visit our page below to learn more about how we can help with your money transfer when moving to New Zealand.

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For more information or if you have any further questions about how Universal Partners FX can help make emigrating to New Zealand easier, be sure to get in touch with one of our currency experts today.

Overseas Property Investment

For some, overseas property investment provides some hard-to-turn-down benefits such as greater claims to capital growth and increased rental yields than buy-to-let property in the UK. Making it a very lucrative opportunity, as well as providing investors with the added advantage of having their very own holiday home that they can visit. If the right decisions are made at the right times, overseas property investment can offer huge financial rewards.

But, before you can pursue your goals of owning a property abroad, there are several things that you will need to bear in mind, such as taxes surrounding property ownership, foreign laws, rent charges and more. So, let’s take a look a some of these things in more detail.

Location, location, location

For newcomers to the property investment game, the location of where their investment will be made is often the first thing to think about. To make your investment a successful one, you’re going to have to think long-term. Many experts will reiterate the fact that certain locations have the reputation of being property hotspots, where if timed properly, you will be able to snatch a bargain when prices have fallen. However, it is advised to invest your money in more established markets that offer longer-term benefits and sustained returns.

General overseas property investment considerations

When looking for the perfect property to invest in, there are a number of things that you will definitely need to think about. These include if your property will be used as a holiday home. If it will be rented out. If the cost of living will change over time and if certain foreign ownership laws will be involved.

If you’re choosing to rent your property out as a holiday home, you’ll need to ensure the property is easily accessible with good local amenities and is located in a popular area with local tourists. Be sure to take holiday seasons into account as many tourist destinations shut down and become quieter during ‘out of season’ months.

Be sure to look into properties of a similar nature in the surrounding area to get an idea and taste of what the general rate in the market is. Despite global property price trends occurring, it is important to know how property markets in specific locations are performing and they themselves can go through peaks and troughs. Take time to learn how many weeks per year similar properties are occupied, to give you an idea of what to expect if and when you decide to proceed with your overseas property investment.

Mortgages

It can be difficult to find the right financing option when buying an overseas property, especially since some countries might not offer financing options at all. In some parts of the world, banks cannot accept a foreign asset as a security loan, so you may not be able to get a standard mortgage from your domestic bank the way you would for a local property purchase. Other international regulations may prohibit banks from even initiating the process with a client regarding a mortgage if the client is based in another country. So, what’s the best way to get a mortgage for your overseas property investment?

Whilst traditional bank financing might not be an option for overseas assets like it is for domestic property purchases, developer financing may be available when there aren’t any other options. Other payment methods may be available such as using retirement funds or pulling equity from your primary residence in your home country. You may also qualify for personal or business loans that you can use to pay for your overseas property down payment. A number of UK banks offer mortgages for international borrowers if you are able to maintain a minimum bank balance at a designated threshold.

Taxes

The amount of tax that you will be required to pay on your overseas property investment needs to be factored into your decision-making process. Some countries impose property taxes, others do not. Some countries may also levy taxes if you leave your property vacant for a certain amount of time in the year. If planning to rent, you may be required to declare that rental income to your home country and the country where your property is located. Unless there are double taxation agreements in place, you could find some issues with tax in two separate countries. When preparing to sell your property, you’ll need to be aware of both domestic and foreign taxes on capital gains. Foreign taxes are complicated and consequences can be steep for failing to declare assets that wouldn’t otherwise be taxed.

Maintenance

When buying an overseas property to make a profit, there is no need to relocate permanently. Meaning your property may well be empty for a significant amount of time. As a result, you will need to think about maintenance and security. One of the best ways to do this is to employ a local property management firm that can make regular visits to check on the premises and conduct the relevant duties to keep the property in a good condition. Despite this requiring some additional investment, it can help to save huge amounts of money and safeguard your assets.

Overseas property investment resources

A vital part of investing successfully and safely in overseas property is finding and taking appropriate advice from the right people. An overseas property management firm is a great start but ultimately is just one cog in the machine. To ensure you get the most out of your investment, you’ll need to tap into a variety of different areas, gathering the expertise from various professionals. Such as:

  • Financial planning & tax advisor
  • Independent legal advisor
  • International accountant
  • Currency transfer specialist

By securing the services of these different resources, you will be able to identify and prevent potential money-losing situations during your overseas property investment journey, especially when it comes to sending money overseas. Universal Partners FX can help you get more for your money when the time comes for you to transfer funds abroad with our bank-beating exchange rates, zero transactions fees and 24/7 expert support.  

Our simple-to-use online platform allows you to send your funds swiftly to a chosen recipient in a secure manner. Whether it’s a one-off or a regular payment, we can you to save money by avoiding high street bank transaction fees and poor exchange rates. Simply sign up for a personal or business account with us today to get started on your overseas property investment. Click below to learn more about how our foreign exchange services can help when buying a property overseas.Buying a Property Overseas >

 

Studying in Japan

According to Japan-Guide.com, there are approximately 300k international students currently studying in Japanese universities, junior colleges, professional schools and other Nipponese institutions.

However, the majority of these students are from neighbouring countries within Asia, such as China and Vietnam, and the contingent of UK students in that mix is relatively slim. As such, Japan remains a relatively untapped resource for Brits looking to study abroad.

Boasting a respectful culture, low crime rates and a unique mix of tradition and futuristic technology, Japan is a truly great country to visit and an equally fantastic place to study.

Why Study in Japan?

While the country of Japan can be a huge draw in its own right, there are a number of other valid and reasons that make Japan an attractive destination for those seriously considering studying abroad.

Japan is globally-recognised for its status as a high-quality educational destination. In fact, both Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo are commonly ranked within the top 100 universities in the entire world by Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings, achieving positions of 65 and 36 respectively in the 2020 standings.

That being said there’s more to Japan’s educational institutions that just those in THE’s rankings. When it comes to the best Japanese universities for international students, factors like English-speaking lecturers and exchange partnerships with global institutions can play a huge role.

Cost of Study in Japan

According to international student resource site Japan Study Support, monthly expenses for international students in Japan comes to about 138,000 yen on average. That translates to just under £1k/month.

While that figure may seem expensive, it’s important to remember that it also includes tuition fees, which are typically between £3k and £5k a year for most pubic universities. As such, living expenses are typically between £550 and £650 a month, depending on where you are based.

By contrast, Times Higher Education reports that international students attending university in the UK paid between £10,000 and £35,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees in 2017, without even taking into account the cost of living.

How to Study in Japan

Anyone looking to spend a prolonged amount of time in a foreign country should keep in mind the relevant visa requirements of the destination in question and Japan is no different.

While a British passport will allow you to enter Japan as a visitor for up to 90 days; however, international students wishing to study in Japan for longer than three months will need to apply for a visa.

Before you can apply for a Japanese visa, applicants will require their educational institution to act as their sponsor, while applicants will also need to prove they are financially prepared to cover the relevant living expenses associated with their stay.

A Japanese study visa can be obtained from the Embassy of Japan in the UK. Applicants must visit the embassy – located in London – in person, bringing the required documentation (passport, visa application form, etc.) with them for processing.

Applicants living in Scotland or select districts in northern England (e.g. Newcastle upon Tyne) are able to apply in person at the Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh, with similar requirements necessary.

Temporary visitors are not permitted to engage in any paid activities while staying in Japan unless stated otherwise by the immigration office. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that even if permission is granted, it’s likely there will be a limit placed on those working hours.

Money in Japan

Once you have arranged a Japanese visa and your journey is beginning to take shape, you may find that you need to transfer money to Japan prior to touching down on Japanese soil. This could be for a variety of reasons, such as paying for fees and services ahead of time (e.g. accommodation).

At Universal Partners FX, we know that opting to study in Japan is a big decision, requiring substantial planning, preparation and patience in the build-up. As such, we aim to take the pressure off by making transferring money to Japan a piece of jiggly cake, with no hidden transaction fees and no nasty surprises along the way.

To transfer money to Japan, follow this simple three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

For further peace of mind, our services are even backed by a 5-star rating from independent review site Feefo. Using our money transfer services, you can send money to Japan quickly, safely and easily in just a few clicks.

Say “sayonara” to hidden transfer fees today by saying “Konnichiwa” to Universal Partners FX.

For more information on studying in Japan or to find out more about sending money to Japan, drop us a line today by calling 020 7190 9559. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Transferring Money To A Foreign Bank Account

Whether you’re looking to purchase a property overseas, pay international bills or are interested in foreign investment, one thing that is pretty much standard for all of these things is that you will have to send money abroad and most likely will need to transfer the funds to a foreign bank account.

To begin transferring money to a foreign bank account with Universal Partners FX, follow these simple steps:

  • Sign-up for a personal account or business account
  • Log-in to check our live exchange rates and secure a quote for your currency transfer
  • Submit the details of your bank and the foreign bank account you’d like to transfer the money to
  • Finalise and submit your transaction

Yes, transferring money to a foreign bank account with us is really that easy. You can choose to set-up a single or recurring transaction through our online money platform, providing you with fast and secure money transfers.

Why choose Universal Partners FX?

When a person needs to send funds abroad, they will typically head down to their bank and start the process there as it seems the most convenient way to do so. Unfortunately, despite the convenience that banks offer, they often charge higher margins above the daily exchange rate to account for risk as well as adding a substantial transfer fee. By choosing Universal Partners FX to transfer your money to a foreign bank account you gain access to several benefits, including:

  • Receiving a quote for your transfer based on live exchange rates at a decreased margin that banks typically offer
  • Swift, secure transfers that allow your money to arrive at its destination safely
  • Take advantage of our currency transfer services such as spot transactions where you are able to target a specific exchange rate
  • 24/7 customer support from one of our foreign exchange experts
  • Access to our innovative online money platform

As well as providing a more cost-effective and supportive method of transferring money to a foreign bank account, we also offer access to a range of risk management strategies such as forward contracts and hedging plans that help to protect you against volatile market fluctuations.

Making your life easier

When you choose to send money abroad, it can often be quite a confusing process with so many names and different banking codes needed to complete a transaction. That’s why by choosing Universal Partners FX instead of a typical foreign exchange provider, you are able to complete your overseas transfer in a simple way that’s easy to understand. Our online registration can be completed in just a few minutes and will guide you through the entire process so that you know exactly what information is needed to ensure your transfer goes through successfully.

Just a few steps away

Once you’ve signed up for an account with us and it is active, you are then able to send your funds to us to transfer to a foreign bank account of your choice. The entire process usually takes 1-5 business days depending on the country you’re transferring to and the currency pairing. Whether it’s for personal or business reasons, you shouldn’t think twice about choosing Universal Partners FX when transferring money to a foreign bank account.

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Benefits of Studying Abroad

Taking the plunge and making the move to study abroad can be a big decision for anyone to make.

Fear of the unknown is an understandable apprehension to have and willingly signing up for an extended period in a foreign land can be a daunting prospect.

With that being said, life’s biggest journeys start with a single step and there is a myriad of benefits of studying abroad that far outweigh the initial nerve-racking jitters.

How so? Read on to find out.

Why Study Abroad?

In addition to the obvious education benefits of studying abroad, the experience itself brings with it a whole host of perks that can quite literally change your life for the better.

To prove just that, here are a few of the biggest benefits of studying abroad:

Personal Development

Perhaps the most obvious of all the perks of studying abroad, the personal development that life in a new land brings is virtually unrivalled.

Studying abroad can bring with it a world life experience, from the independent qualities of living life without a parental safety net to the social aspects of fitting in and making new relationships in a fresh environment.

Living abroad for an extended period of time can also open your mind to new perspectives and lifestyles, making you a more well-rounded individual as a result, while the enlightening influence of different cultures can also be something that stays with you for the rest of life.

Learn a New Language

The living embodiment of the phrase “jumping in at the deep end”, the “sink or swim” mentality of immersing yourself in a foreign culture may be a bold approach to learning but it can also be the most effective way to pick up a new language.

After all, what better way to improve your local linguistics than by going straight to the source? You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can sharpen your skills and improve your dialect as a result.

Mastering the foreign tongue simply from a textbook or in a classroom can be difficult without the real-world practical use to support and maintain it. Conversing with native speakers can not only reinforce your language skills but also vastly improve your pronunciation.

Once you return, you could be virtually fluent in your new foreign language which not only looks good on the CV but also opens you up to an avenue of international jobs that would otherwise be inaccessible.

International Career Opportunities

Speaking of jobs, studying abroad also presents a world of new career opportunities as well.

Following a prolonged spell of study, it’s not unusual for ex-pats to remain in their adopted homeland once their educational period has ended. As such, the fact that education was achieved within that country can be valuable and help exponentially when it comes to securing a job.

What’s more, travel itself can be a window to the job of your dreams, with certain locations being more relevant to a particular industry than other; for example, Berlin is famed for its technology jobs.

In addition to the primary career opportunities, it can present abroad, studying abroad can also have a variety of incidental, slow-burning professional perks; for example, the international network of contacts you will be able to create. Those connections could prove fruitful down the line if you do wish to consider professional exploration abroad.

Boost CV Domestically

While studying abroad can be a clear entryway into professional life overseas, it can also have a positive influence on your career prospects if and when you return home.

Studying abroad shows domestic employers that you are open-minded and not adverse to change to ensure progression. These characteristics are seen by employers as extremely valuable and can make your CV stand out from a crowded stack instantly.

Meanwhile, the fact that you had the motivation and discipline to study abroad also shows that you are both driven and adaptable – two transferable skills that many employers look for from in their candidates – as well as someone who welcomes a challenge.

See the World

Travelling the world and getting to see the sights outside of your home shores is a dream of many and what a lot of people consider a key ingredient of a happy and fulfilling life. The experiences at your fingertips when exploring life abroad can be unlike anything you can achieve back home.

Not only will you get to see the world but you’ll also get to experience your destination in an entirely different way to a traditional holiday. Studying abroad allows you to truly immerse yourself in the culture and soak up the local lifestyle over the long-term while you’re there.

Meanwhile, students that study abroad may also find it easier to travel further to additional countries during their excursion and/or once their study is over. The temptation of continuing your journey further afield can be easily achieved if funds allow.

For more benefits of studying abroad or financial advice on preparing to study abroad, why not drop us a line today and speak with one of our experts? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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